Lubbock, Texas Attractions: McPherson Cellars

May 24, 2021

Paul Kay

Did you know that the Lubbock area in Texas is great for grapes? We visited McPherson Cellars to taste more. Here's some history and our review.

In Lubbock we noticed there are a lot of buildings that are repurposed. They don’t tear down all the old buildings, they reuse them. When we arrived at McPherson Cellars, it didn’t look like a storefront for wine. We found out that it was originally a Coca-Cola bottling plant.

Jason Lamb, Hotter'N Hell 100, Wichita Falls, Texas

I did not know a lot about Texas wine. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me that the Texas climate could make decent wine because the summers are so hot. Our son, Jason, who is also the editor of this blog, rode in the nearby Hotter’N Hell Hundred, which is one of the oldest and largest cycling events in the nation. It seemed that Hotter’N Hell and grapes were not a good match.

The Texas High Plains AVA lies between desert to its west and a more humid climate to the southeast. AVA stands for American viticultural area. The appellation is the second largest American Viticultural Area in Texas covering more than eight million acres. Its northern border is 20 minutes south of Amarillo. The southern edge runs east from the New Mexico border and intersects with the vast Llano Estacado or staked plain. It was formed by deposits from the Rocky Mountains in the Tertiary Period, along with erosion from the Pecos, Red, Brazos, Canadian and Colorado river systems.

The region receives less than 20 inches of rainfall each year. The Ogallala aquifer, an underground reservoir that extends from Texas to South Dakota, supplies further irrigation. The area reminded me of Mendoza, Argentina, which receives very little yearly rain.

Wine for Sale, McPherson Cellars, Lubbock, Texas

The McPherson name became well known when in 1962, Clinton “Doc” McPherson, a chemistry professor at Texas Tech University, and his colleague, Bob Reed, an assistant professor of horticulture and entomology, began to cultivate Sangiovese grapes from a planting on Reed’s back patio in Lubbock. They determined that the grapes adapt readily in the Texas High Plains region, a flat area that’s dry and warm during the day, and cool at night.

The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station funded further research in 1968. Eight years later, after initial experiments with fermentation in the chemistry lab at Texas Tech, McPherson and Reed founded Llano Estacado Winery, the first post-Prohibition winery in West Texas. It’s the second oldest winery in the state, after Val Verde Winery in the Texas Hill Country, which opened in 1883. By 1990, 17 grape varieties, from Barbera to Zinfandel, thrived on roughly 1,300 acres in the High Plains.

Winner, McPherson Cellars, Lubbock, Texas

In 1992, McPherson compiled 112 pages on the region’s climate, geology and history with viniculture to accompany his application to designate the Texas High Plains American Viticultural Area (AVA), which was established on March 2, 1993.

Today, the AVA sprawls through 24 counties, and at its heart is Lubbock. Currently, the region plants more than 75 varieties and cultivates more than 80 percent of the state’s wine grapes each year. Doc McPherson’s original experimental vineyard is now the estate vineyard for McPherson Cellars, founded by his son, Kim McPherson.

Old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, McPherson Cellars, Lubbock, Texas

Madeline and I arrived at the end of a busy travel day and managed to squeeze in a wine tasting.

Tasting Room, McPherson Cellars, Lubbock, Texas

We sampled six wines, and I was not convinced we would like any of them. We wound up purchasing three of them. They offered two whites, a rose and three red wines. We now have a nice selection of the great McPherson wines. And we can attest that they are very good!

Lubbock is probably best known for Texas Tech, the university where Doc McPherson taught. It’s a large university with more than 40,000 students that puts it in the top 10 universities in Texas by size. If you are not a student, coming to Lubbock for wine or the Buddy Holly Museum or the beautiful scenery is still a good idea.

Read More

Bowie, Texas Attractions: World’s Largest Bowie Knife
Lubbock, Texas Attractions: Buddy Holly Museum

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter now!

Get the latest Go Go 2 Slow Go updates, news and offers delivered straight to your inbox.